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The EPA on Wednesday announced $965 million in grants for electric school buses, the first of a five-year, $5 billion program for zero-emission school buses.

The grants will go to 389 school districts spanning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several Native American tribes’ lands, and United States territories, the EPA said in a press release, adding that the grants will help these school districts purchase over 2,400 electric buses.

Thomas Built Buses Jouley electric school busThomas Built Buses Jouley electric school bus

The EPA laid out details for the $5 billion program in May, and in September it effectively doubled the first-year funding, which had originally been set at around $500 million. School districts receiving this funding were selected via lottery. The next round of funding scheduled to launch in the coming months and will include “an ambitious grant competition,” the EPA said.

Funding for the program comes from the mammoth Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in late 2021. That law also set aside $7.5 billion toward a nationwide EV charging network, targeting 500,000 chargers.

Lion C electric school busLion C electric school bus

Before the Infrastructure Law was passed, Volkswagen’s diesel settlement also funded a lot of electric school buses for states. Michigan, for example, used part of its $64.8 million share of the settlement to help fund the purchase of 17 electric school buses for seven school districts as replacement for existing diesel buses.

Electric school buses have fewer maintenance needs, don’t contribute to noise pollution, and curb diesel emissions that can contribute to asthma and other health issues. 

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